Tag Archives: rural

Technology Failing the bush

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This picture was taken in 2008 when the Australian bush got digital signal. This is the farmer trying to make or receive a call on his new cell phone or mobile phone as they are called In Australia. We have vast areas of populations – we as an island are centered around coastal areas and even some of these outer city suburbs still do not get adequate signals nor internet services.

Move to the bush, I called up about a property the farmer wants to go and have a look at today and was told “don’t forget 5kms out there is “NO MOBILE Service” so if you want to come early you will need to phone and ask.

Both sides of politics here in Australia, fought over the launch of the NBN (National Broad band Satellite) which would make internet, educational services to the bush – world class. I can tell you now that when India had their earth quake which destroyed vast areas of land, on news items you could still see the people using mobile and internet skype services to report to the world how bad the situation was. That was and still is better service than rural, regional and remote Australian people get.

This picture is not a joke and we still only get reception one place in our kitchen and if you move or the wind blows people drop out or say we can’t hear you. It’s is absolutely a joke, there is no bipartisanship – neither political party will now acknowledge what a balls up they have both made of a service that in this day and age is necessary for work health & safety reasons – no service on  farm so if there is an accident critical hours are lost until someone realises the person has gone missing, or didn’t return on time. By not being able to provide good internet or mobile service employment opportunities go begging, if families can’t educate their children nor contact each other, why move out of the city.

One can look on real estate sites now and places are being sold that have good internet services and it is now becoming the major question to ask the agent rather than – how old is the plumbing or does it have air conditioning. The people in the know now get asked if they get wireless or are hooked up and will make purchasing decisions based on availability of these services.

The service providers were so greedy demand exceeded supply but they still kept selling, without any thought to the people whose lives they would affect once they had to put in a fair use policy: that is drop everyone regardless of business, education institution or safety of travelers and workers in regional areas to an unworkable internet service. Tourist don’t stay where they can’t get free wi-fi, they don’t when I travel I think it is a necessity especially when traveling overseas for business.

We had the new skymuster installed last month after it’s launch in October last year 2015 and that was after 3 installation cancellations (which is normal) many wasted hours on the phone to try and rebook or to even find out why it was cancelled – only 1 was authentic – really bad weather the rest they used the excuse “bad weather”. Now we have had it for not even a complete month and apparently we have chewed through our GB, how is this possible when we haven’t done anything different from our 20-GB plan. (you’re jealous of the GB aren’t you?) we are lucky to get what we have, I know that so when we ring yesterday as they shaped us again, I got the farmer to call he had the phone on hold for over 95 minutes then finally pushed the call back button, 2 hours later he called again to find the service had closed for the day.

I call back at opening time this morning and immediately put on hold…. I pushed the we will have a call back button and then put it out on social media. I know but after 4 hours of waiting for assistance – that’s what social media is good for, getting attention good and bad. I sent a private message to the organisation as well and this is their response

“NBN are having system issues, installer issues, service issues and a whole lot else. They didn’t do a very good job properly testing everything end to end before launch and now we (and the rest of the providers) are having to deal with it. If you look on BIRRR you will see what i am talking about. We have employed more people but the amount of calls that come into the system are still clogging up our lines.”

No really nothing tested properly before they introduced it?  you can tell by the picture of the farmer turning off analogue was a great thing done by the Labor Government, can you imagine what would happen if all politicians had to walk around parliament house with an aerial till they got signal? Then the Liberal party come in and tell us how they can do all of this cheaper, no none of them can, they all lied and still keep doing it. Votes in the bush don’t count, keeping their safe city seats is vital and that is where the main population is.

#Rant over

Are communications the same world over or is it isolated to regional, rural and remote areas?

Telecommunications #Pass or #Fail

Living in regional areas means having to use every thing available to stay in-contact with families, travel safely in areas during daily work life, maintain and do business, so it requires properties and families to have a land line, mobile phones, satellite internet and satellite TV services that are affordable and relevant. It also makes sense to provide these areas with great services due to the high risk of fire, isolation, horrific road tolls, farm accidents, distances needed to travel to get to anywhere and educational opportunities that city children don’t have to give a thought to. These are a few of the daily activities that regional and rural people need to combat in order to be educated, informed and involved in their local communities and lives, even medical services are now looking to linking up with video conferencing to diagnose and treat people in these areas as Doctors stay away in droves.

Yet in Australia, Governments historically and modern-day concentrate all finances and upgrading of services i.e. roads, high-speed internet to the cities, to get more votes. Their tunnel vision doesn’t expand greater than for self-serving and vote grabbing. Despite the fact that all politicians admit and acknowledge it’s an issue, one will come up with an idea i.e. NBN Co  the next incoming Government will veto it, change it and then make it so redundant it fails to provide anything for regional and rural areas, it becomes obsolete or rather the service so over subscribed they cut everybody sighting a ‘Fair Use Policy” designed to discriminate against “‘only regional customers” as told to the local radio station by a CEO of a provider, when challenged.

When paying subscribers were notified by email of this announcement to cut GB to 20Gb for all, there was a written disclaimer of being sued for breach of confidential information should you share it ( they were trying to infer regional people would just accept this as delivery of more poor services to our areas without a fuss). In the city, emails seen to fly out of sent boxes with ease, regionally you sometimes have to walk away and or disect the email and send in consequential lots, 1 email in the city and 4 from regional areas, depending upon content (thankfully there are now drop boxes and clouds).

I have written to all Communications Ministers, Sitting and Shadow, State and Federal to receive, at best, a substandard response from them all, when sending some of these onto radio producers I have had to send them with a warning “this will be 5 minutes of your life you will never get back if you read this” some Ministers Shadow and Sitting, actually think it is ok to make this about THEM, not only as individuals but as a party, the absolute vanity and non caring of these people sitting in $100K+ salaries telling us that if it weren’t for them we would have nothing was awkward at best. The radio producers have had to agree and then not able to put it to air so as not to embarrass themselves with such stupidity. Others have referred me off to the Dept of Communications – beautifully side stepping the issue.

Our local ABC radio has been great with the cause as it affects all of regional and rural areas, having diminished services puts safety at risk of all road users and travellers, tourism, business, medical services and educational growth of these areas. I was lucky enough to be able to get onto the regional telecommunications review webinars to hear how these decreases have affected many people in different forms from all over Australia.

My other issue is that though the provider has reduced the satellite internet services by 2/3rd they have not reduced the price. All our communications services are extremely expensive and fairly useless, mobiles do not ring or can’t be answered in houses, we get great reception 30kms away so we are reliant on a land line which during our fire was damaged and though, in an active fire zone was told we “were not important enough to have it fixed” it took Telstra 6 weeks to reconnect us. Recently it was out for 9 days with no explanation as to why they wouldn’t come and fix it, when they did it took less than 30 minutes.

Now with the reduction in Satellite internet services we also have had the announcement that Mobile black spot funding has been settled at 11 towers in SA, due to lack of input and finances from our State Government. In the South East of South Australia there was none allocated despite areas being identified where there is no network, no safety for people in these areas and no level of comfort they are being taken seriously. Our State Government has had over 12 years to improve our state and regional areas, with the exception of Port Pirie, they haven’t nor do I feel comfort that the opposition party will be any better, there is no money. Governments spend and spend tax payers money with no real planning for future growth and needs.

I have heard of families struggling with remote education, saying that their 2 teenage children had used the quota up in two weeks with school work and then they were cut off till the next billing round, does this then make it necessary to have local and regional libraries open after hours? Will the Government be proactive and allow this? pay the wages and encourage students to go there? the problem is lack of foresight by  Government and lack of finances to pay wages due to poor fiscal management.  Distance being an issue for families in that some of these libraries are attached to schools and are over 100+kms away from properties. I think not, its put up with it until we fix it sometime in 2016.

For anyone wanting to let the Department know of their issues and problems with reduced services please go to the Regional Telecommunications Review, issue papers and do a submission you have till 15th July 2015 to get your voice for your area read. It may not help solve the problem in the short term but will give them different aspects to work on. To make it easier click the link and it will take you straight there. I am also happy to share with you the correspondence I have received from the Ministers and Shadow Ministers if you would like to email me requesting it.

Some of these people and Departments make as much sense as standing in a paddock full of cattle, the language barrier is huge and the lack of concentration and understanding by the parties is a great divide.

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I’m giving our Governments and Telecommunications a big #FAIL


Value Adding

This is a term that our politicians (both sides) have taken to use when discussing regional and rural ‘opportunities and shits me to distraction. I heard it on the radio the other day, these ‘politicians’ have taken to try to placate the rural and regional areas by this will shock you ‘making things up’

I heard it in the build up to the last state election Martin Hamilton-Smith –  then Liberal candidate used it when talking about farmers and it went unchallenged by the radio interviewer, whether that was because the Liberals were not in power or whether it was because the interviewer knew this made no sense. (I suspect the later knowing the interviewer) I tried to get answers to what this meant, he was talking about getting the farmers to value add. Well I am still scratching my head over this, we do livestock and many a night I have wondered how I can value add so that farmers get better than 2009 prices for their stock. I have thought I could put bells on cattle – that is internationally recognized as something cows have.

I have thought about putting bows on sheep, mainly around their girth, purely for aesthetic reasons and even pigs (though we don’t have them) perhaps pierce their ears ‘Miss Piggy” Style and chickens rings on their ankles. This would value add to sum total of nothing and perhaps annoy people. I know farmers who work 24/7 to ‘value add’ they feed animals when it’s dry, they drench, they mark, they pay numerous levy and take really poor returns for months of hard work,  meanwhile if you speak with a food processor they do not hide their BILLION dollar profit in 1 financial year but still won’t pass on this massive wealth to the farmer.

So if any of the politicians, Liberal or Labor would like to let me know what you mean when you say this I’ll call a country town meeting and share it. I think I can confidently say I won’t get an answer and the reason for this is because of the following

This week here in South Australia we had another Minister Mr Geoff Brock get up in parliament and read out his response to the Marine Parks issue. He KNEW doing this would put people in his electorate out of work, he knew doing this he was siding with a political party that he declared he was independent from and perhaps knowing he would never be re-elected again. But then again he took a MASSIVE pay increase to become a Minister in power.

He was interviewed on his decision by Dr Annette Marner from the abc regional and he used those words to her. We are looking to the fishery people to “value add” and she fired back ‘how so?” he then went on to say he wasn’t going into that right now he wanted to get together another study and spend the next 12 months looking at the impact. In other words NO IDEA what this means, I wonder how many businesses can last 12 months without income and patronage to give Mr Brock his answer. I have thought I wonder what the fisher people can do to value add.

I note on his website he has tried to deflect this by putting out another re-affirmation on the CFS compensation as if this will provide the paid employment for the regional area that he represents.

How do people in business value add? What does this mean? If you are in business and can help me answer this question please respond it will perhaps offer our politicians new wording and an understanding of what they are saying as none of them can qualify it. I know we are meant to be ‘confident’ but what in and in whom? there are some many groups of people, workers, and regions who are being disaffected by our politicians, I would love one of them to stand up in parliament house and just say ‘crap” we are all speaking crap, we have safe jobs, safe pensions and we are making decisions with which we know nothing about how do we change this? Wouldn’t that be great.